by Mike Slodki
ELBURN—Westminster Christian High School basketball coach Bruce Firchau is equipped with a brochure about the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame Museum that reads, “For over a century, the game of basketball has played a significant role in the lives of thousands of Illinois residents. From small gyms in rural towns to large arenas in metropolitan areas, basketball has created decades of unforgettable memories and traditions in the state.”
For what Firchau is helping to get off the ground, that describes this state-wide passion project to a ‘T’.
Firchau has not only been an area hoops coach for years, including a stop at Oswego High School, but is also an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association representative and on the board of directors as chairman of the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame Museum.
“We are trying to spread the word throughout the state as really making this something memorable,” Firchau said. “The entire state can get involved and there’s plenty of memories from the Kaneland area, as well.”
The Hall of Fame Museum is slated to open in 2013 and housed in the David S. Palmer Arena in downtown Danville, Ill., roughly two hours south of Chicago.
“We chose Danville as a location because it was near Interstate 74, and it’s centrally located,” Firchau said. “Danville is very eager to have it.”
Blueprints and renderings are completed, but the true attraction of the museum will lay in the material within.
The museum will combine video, exhibits, interactive presentations, photographs and memorabilia.
Attractions will highlight players, coaches, officials, teams and media members who have made their mark with the game.
The museum will operate solely on contrbutions from private and corporate benefactors and individuals.
“This museum is going to be all-encompassing,” Firchau said. “Pro, college and high schools will be covered.”
“We have talked to Loyola about memorabilia concerning their NCAA Championship, Wheaton College about its Division II championship and North Park about its Division III championship. Sports information directors from places like NIU, DePaul and (University of Illinois) are all eager and have helped out,” Firchau said.
The museum will also deal with issues of the time, like segregation and the introduction of girls basketball to the Prairie State landscape.
Firchau also mentioned an ambitious exhibit of a school-wide roll call, from schools A to Z, operational to defunct.
This is just one of the many ways Kaneland residents can pitch in to get the future basketball mecca off the ground.
“If someone were to have a letter jacket from the old Elburn or Maple Park high schools, that would help,” Firchau said. “This has been a strong area for basketball. The girls basketball championship came here in 1982. There were coaches like Ron Johnson, George Birkett, and Bob Pederson in the past that gave so much back to the community. If someone wanted to contribute an old uniform or had old films, that’s the type of thing we’re looking for.”
The Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame Museum can be contacted at: 100 W. Main Street, Ste. 146. Danville, IL 61832, and called at (217) 442-DUNK. E-mail contact is firstname.lastname@example.org, and can be clicked at www.ilhoopshall.com.